The Primal Flower, Chapter 5 (Part B)

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An excerpt:

“How do you become an adviser to the King?” I asked.

“Blood relationships, on the one hand,” he said. “And financial relationships, on the other hand. The same way one becomes king to begin with.”

I stopped short again. “This is not what we were taught as children.”

“Again, I ask you,” he said. “Are you yet a child?”

“No,” I sighed. “I suppose not. But please allow me—”

He recommenced walking. The King, I had been taught, had, before all remembrances and histories, appeared in the midst of the city, a direct descendant of God. He never died, because he was not mortal, like us, and he never made mistakes. He renewed himself from time-to-time, usually to renew his youth and vigor, but sometimes to renew his political ideas, and we all rejoiced these occasions by remembering his enthronement at the very founding of The City.

My father’s dead eyes pierced me from deep within somewhere. I grew angry.

“Advisers are chosen,” said Lily’s uncle, “according to a formula which states that, for each ability lacking in daily life, an ability is added for court diplomacy.”

“Rejects, dimwits, and nincompoops,” I said. I was beginning to see that the palace was shrinking. “Game pieces for other people to move.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Lily’s uncle, “You cannot omit the cleverest piece of all, who moves himself: the power broker.”

“Who is that?” I asked.

“One who is among those who are disguised as rejects, dimwits and nincompoops.”

The strange bottle was beginning to work its magic, like a falling stone. I began to feel dizzy. I noticed that Lily’s Uncle was laughing at nothing, and he couldn’t stop.

We struggled together up the hill. I was thankful that I had delivered over my hide. Shur-qa-hil burped and spit, and he cursed, “By God! I despise that wretched wine of my aristocratic, pompous, brother! It has made me weak, like some fat king of the west!” He put his hands on his knees and heaved a great cough. I thought he was going be relieved of a burden, but he recovered himself. Was I supposed to laugh?

“Laugh, little boy!” he roared, then he himself laughed. “We shall make a fine pair, stumbling through the barbarian hordes as one of their own!” He began to sing, like a fire consuming dry brush in the spring:

Down the hill from our labors we, hey!

Down the hill for our capers we, ho!

We turned the stone and found a hole

We turned the edge and found a hole

The first one filled with water

The last one filled with beer, hey!

Down the hill from our labors we, hey!

Down the hill for our capers, we, ho!

We cracked our skulls to eat our fill

We cracked our heads to eat our fill

The first one was for daily bread

The last one was just for her, hey!

The Primal Flower, Chapter 5 (Part B)